What To Do In The Happiest Place On Earth

Fulford, Colorado is the happiest place on Earth.  At least that’s what my friends call it, and I tend to agree with them.  And I am lucky enough to have friends who own a cabin in the happiest place on Earth.

This little mountain community is ten miles up into the White River National Forest just below New York mountain, away from any type of civilization.  No cellphones, no tv’s, and no computers.   You couldn’t even read my blog if you wanted to.  Well, I guess some cabins up there have satalite dishes, but I sure don’t go up to the cabin to stay connected to the world.

Yes, Fulford is great for hiking, fishing, and star gazing, all great things to do in the mountains, but I love Fulford because it is a great place to relax.  Whenever my family is able to stay at the cabin, we set aside any agenda.  If we want to wake up early and go for a walk, we do it.  If we sleep in and then relax on the couches drinking coffee or hot chocolate, we do that.

Fulford is not a place for the busy lifestyle.  Last week in my blog, I wrote about how we need to slow down as we experience life.   Fulford is a place that forces you to slow down.  While I was up there this weekend, I finished the entire collection of Sherlock Holmes (of which I had been reading on and off for three years) took a hike, and napped.

If you really want to know what to do in the mountains, follow my advice.  Find a quite spot, in a cabin, or in a tent, and read.  Read until your eyes are too heavy and then take a nap.  God wants us to relax.  If we are always on the go we wont have enough concentration and energy to notice him.

I’ve been trying to live spiritually this year, and sometimes I forget that God just wants me.  He doesn’t want me to do anything special, yes it was fun hiking Mt. Elbert, but he would rather have me.  And that takes some quiet time.  That is why Fulford is the happiest place on Earth.  It takes you away from every modern comfort and forces you slow down.  And I find when I am living slowly I feel more complete.

I hope everyone is able to go on a vacation this summer, short or long, heck Fulford was just a weekend trip, and is able to relax.  If you haven’t found time to get up into the mountains or some other quiet spot, then turn off your computer and power down all of your other distractions, ’cause God wants you to have some time with just Him.

Rams, Super Chivos, and Waterton Canyon

Colorado is a pretty amazing place to live, and like Ferris Bueller said, “life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

This year I’ve been trying to live spiritually, which means slowing down so I don’t miss anything.  Especially anything God has for me here in Colorado (Because that’s where I live so it’s best to open my eyes to what God has for me in my home state).

The other week, during the first week in June, something out of the ordinary happened and I was blessed enough to see witness it.

On June first, I went biking up Waterton Canyon in South West Denver.  Waterton Canyon had been closed for the last two years, so I was pretty excited to be able go for a ride up the road next to the Platte River.  On my way up the trail I came across a heard of Rams.  It was amazing, but a couple came a little too close for comfort.

As I stood by my bike taking pictures, a couple of bikers slowed down to look, but then sped off.  It was as if they had seen such puny wildlife before.  Maybe this was special to me because I hadn’t been biking in Colorado in almost two years, but maybe it meant more to me because I went on the ride with my eyes open.  I wanted to see what God had for me.

I could’ve stayed home and not gone on the ride.  My bike was broken and I knew I would have to borrow a girl’s cruiser bike to be able to even go on the ride.  I was tired and would have enjoyed a nap.  But living spiritually means getting out on the trail even when it means a difficult ride.

Living spiritually means stopping and watching God’s wildlife, trusting that He’s in control.  Those rams were wild and I’m lucky they didn’t decide to fight my bike.  Or maybe I’m blessed to live in Colorado where I can see God’s wild creation if I just open my eyes.

What have you seen lately?  Are you biking right past the rams or are you living a little more like Ferris Bueller?

Don’t miss the life God’s given you.  Join my dad, Eugene Scott, and me as we look for the amazing in our daily lives.  Start living spiritually with us.

Some of you might be wondering what a Super Chivo is.  Well in English, it is a Super Ram, which is the mascot for Xela’s soccer team.  And it so happens that I was wearing my Xelaju soccer jersey on the ride and so maybe the ram didn’t ram me because I am a Super Chivo!

Coming Up Roses

I’ve been doing  yard work again.  I don’t have much of a green thumb, more like a brown thumb.  I tend to pull more weeds than plant bushes.  Despite my lack of talent in the field of botany something really cool happened this last week.

To explain what happened I need to back up my story a little bit.

You’ve Got Mail! No, wait, it’s just junk.

For the last couple of years a nasty weed has been growing near the mailbox.  Oh, you guys know what a mailbox is, you know the box at the end of your driveway that magically receives junk and the occasional birthday card from your grandma that always has the two dollar bill tucked inside.

Anyway, this “weed” never really looked like a weed.  Last summer it bloomed a beautiful white flower, but it also took over wherever it grew.  (It also made it hard to back out of our driveway)  So I decided to transplant this “weed,” still thinking it was a normal plant, to a more advantageous location.  But when I started to dig it up I realized the job wouldn’t be worth it.  What I thought was one plant was five or six different weeds.  This monster was growing crazy and choking out everything around it.

After talking to my dad, we decided to rip this weed out.  We dug and dug, for about ten minutes, making no progress.  Then my dad had a brilliant idea.  “Why don’t we rip the roots out with my truck,” he said.  “Heck yes!” I replied.  Two hours later, after a lot of grunting and other man stuff, we’d pulled the monster out.  The roots looked more like alien tentacles.

That’s the kind of weeding I like to do.  Honestly I didn’t expect anything good to come from it.  But then yesterday I went over to the mailbox for the first time in a couple weeks, really I only check my mail on my computer, and was shocked at what I saw.  The bush, which had been growing resolutely between the monster weed, had always been deprived of its nutrients because of the weed.  But now everything had changed.  A perfect yellow rose had bloomed.

Because I took out the weed the rose bush is now blossoming amazingly!

It made me think about how God works in our lives.  Sometimes he takes things away from us.  Sometimes those things are bad like weeds.  Sometimes those weeds even look good, but in fact they are choking out something that God wants to nurture in our lives.

So I have a question, what do you think God wants you to give up or get rid of so that you can experience an amazing blossom?

As we live spiritually we need to trust God.  He has a plan for us, even if that means letting go of things we think we need.  Let God help you produce roses, let him work in your life.

Are You Broken?

God made me into a masterpiece.  And yet, like the broken volcanic rock I’m standing on in this picture, I’m a broken masterpiece.

I’m a broken masterpiece who’s enamored with a kids movie.  When Hugo came out before Christmas I was blown away by its beauty, but as I’ve watched it again and again, I’ve seen the true elements of God’s grace and redemption weave their way through the story.

In the movie, Hugo Cabret, the main character, loves fixing things.  As the story progresses he realizes that everyone around him is broken. Just as Hugo realized that the people around him were inventions who needed fixed, I realized that fact is true to life.  We are all creations who have been broken.

I’ve been writing a lot about my recent mission trip to Guatemala.  During the first part of March 2012 I led a small team down to Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala to help out with a vacation Bible school program and a high school and middle school retreat.

Now, if you have been following my blog you know that the week was quite an adventure.  You also know that you are God’s masterpiece.  You know that God created you for a reason.

But what happens when you mess up.  When you feel broken. Does God just toss us away?  Can we mess up so bad that even God wont take us back?

During the retreat, once we’d made it down to hotter than hell Reu, Guatemala, I asked my students if they knew what the word redemption meant.  We were packed into a small dining hall for games, worship, and a message.  Going along with the theme of creation I asked three boys to create something with Hot Tamales.  First they had to chew them up and then build something artistic.

The game failed.  I’m pretty sure all of the students were bored during the game, which wasn’t how I pictured it.  I’m glad it was just a game.  But then, somehow the games failure fit into my talk.  How often do our lives not go as planned.  If we are inventions we sure tend to break down a lot, and sometimes it’s our own fault.

In my last blog I talked about how God chose a little shepherd to be king of Israel.  David was the smallest in his family, but he had something God desired.  An open heart.  But let me tell you the rest of David’s story.  If he was a man after God’s own heart, he was also horribly broken.  Once David becomes king he stops following God’s plan for him.

If I think I’ve messed up, well at least I haven’t skipped out on God’s job for me so that I could commit adultery.  David did that.  But wait, there’s more.  David finds out he knocked up the woman he slept with, and wait, she’s married.  So, after he tries to pin the baby on her husband, which fails miserably, (as is what happens most of the time when we try to hide our mistakes) David has the man killed.  So, David has gone from a man after God’s own heart, to an adulterer, to a murderer.  I am sure when he woke up the morning before all this happened, he didn’t write on his to do list, sleep with a married woman and then kill her husband.

No.  We never plan on making mistakes.  As I shared this story of David with my students, I wanted them to realize that even great biblical figures mess up. If someone in the Bible screws up royally, then what does that mean for us normal folk?

And so I opened my Bible and shared with them how David responded to  God.  Yes, at first David hid from God, tried to cover up all his wrong doing, but then he does something us normal folk should do.  He admits his wrongs and asks God to redeem him.  In Psalm 51 verse 1-12 David writes:

1 Have mercy on me, O God,

The Cost of Redemption

according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

David was a broken invention.  God set him on a path to be king of Israel and David messes things up.  We are God’s masterpieces, but if you are like me you have messed up.  The first step to redemption is admitting to God how you messed up.

I have found that when I am open with my faults God tends to redeem them. Redemption doesn’t mean erasing all that we did wrong, but fixing what is broken.  Like David said, create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  He didn’t say take this all away as if it never happened, he asked for God to fix him.

That is exactly what God did on Easter through Jesus.  He sent Jesus to fix us.  But that can only happen if we admit that we’re broken and need someone to repair us.  If we do, our story will be as meaningful as Hugo’s, probably even more so.  Because when we are living out God’s plan for us our stories turn into grand adventures.

As I finished giving my message I prayed that each of the students would keep their heart open to God and know that, no matter what they’d done or will do, they could never separate themselves from God.

I hope you know that too.  That this Easter is a time to celebrate redemption.  I urge you to join me, and my dad, Eugene Scott, in Living Spiritually.  We have set this year and hopefully our lives to keeping our eyes and our hearts open to God.  It has been an adventure so far and it would be amazing if you joined us.

You Are God’s Masterpiece

Have you ever thought of God as an inventor?  Just think, he created Xela, this beautiful city.  But have you ever thought that you are an invention, created for a purpose?

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I took a team down to Guatemala to lead The Inter-American School’s Spiritual Emphasis Week.  Our theme for the week was The Inventors Workshop, an idea I got from the movie Hugo.  I asked them to look at their lives as if they were invented with a purpose.

During the all school chapel on Tuesday morning I asked the students help me make the greatest invention ever.  We decided we needed some volunteers, so I called up the smartest kid in school, Skyy.  Then I called up the tallest, Oscar.  Followed by the strongest, How.  And then for good measure I picked a random boy out from the crowd, little Quike (pronounced key kay) from second grade.

Surprisingly enough, Oscar was too tall, How was too strong, and Skyy was too smart.  Quike was just perfect for my experiment.  If you don’t understand why I went with the smallest boy, maybe you should read a story from the Old Testament where David, a young Shepard at the time, is chosen by God to be the future king of Israel.  He isn’t big and strong like his brothers, but he has something God desires.

And so Quike let me use him to create the perfect invention.  First, we decided, he had to be wearing a hat, cause hats are cool, so I grabbed a hat from the audience and placed it on his head.  Then, what boy would be complete without sunglasses?  But I wanted him to be even cooler so I broke out my ski goggles and plopped them on his head.  My perfect invention was almost complete.  What kid is complete without an iPod and headphones?  I shoved my headphones on his little head and turned up the music.  He was complete.

Only one problem.  He couldn’t hear his inventor.  I tried several times to make him walk across the stage, but alas, the music was too loud.

So what did David have that God desired?  An open heart.  We cannot respond to our inventor if our hearts are closed.  Like Quike, who couldn’t hear me because of the music, we often drown out God with noise.  How often do we have our iPods on and miss out on what God has for us?

So, I challenged my students to open their hearts to what God had for them that week.  I asked them to unplug from anything that could distract them from God.  ‘Cause if their hearts were to remain closed, they would never know their purpose.

And what kind of leader would I be if I challenged them and didn’t give them an example of what an open heart looks like.

When I first started teaching at IAS, almost four years ago now, I was nervous.  If you go back and read some of my first blog posts you’ll see I was lonely, and not a good writer.  I was not alone.  Because I kept my heart open to all God had for me in Guatemala, he provided me with friends and amazing experiences.  Over the three years the students at IAS invited me into their lives and by doing so we created memories and built relationships.  If I’d had my heart closed off to them God wouldn’t have been refine me, his invention.

I believe God has created us as his masterpiece.  We are his most complex invention.  I challenged them to look at a series of photographs with an open heart.  You might not know anyone from the following slide show, but I want you, my readers to keep your hearts open as well.

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Here is what I see when I look at these pictures.  I see a kid I tutored, the same kid I convinced that the Rockies were the best team in Baseball.  I see a class that showed me how much fun teaching can be, they also showed me how frustrating it can be as well.  I see kids that love to play zombie tag.  I see friends who God has a special plan for.  When I look through this slide show I see God’s masterpieces.

If you were to add your own picture to that slide show, I hope you would see that you are God’s masterpiece, his greatest invention, and that he has a purpose for you.  You are not, as Hugo says, “spare parts.”

Join me and my dad, Eugene Scott, in living spiritually.  We are 88 days into the new year and I have already seen God do so much.  Join us on this adventure!

Mighty To Save

If you have ever talked to me in person, or read any of my blogs, you know I drone on and on about how I taught PE at the Inter-American School in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala from 2008-2011.  It was truly a life changing experience.  As the gym teacher, I saw my job as twofold, first to challenge the kids athletically, but also to challenge them spiritually.  I can’t speak for how God used me to work in my students lives, but I do know God used them to constantly challenge me.

When I moved back to Colorado last June, I was not the same person who flew down to Guatemala in August of 2008.

I’d become more of the man God created me to be.

I think a big part of my change was opening my heart to my students and letting God work through them.  And so this last week I had the chance give back to them in return.  My dad (Also known as The Rev. Dr. E. C. Scott), Mike and Stacey Davis, and I flew down to Guatemala to lead a Spiritual Emphasis Week for all my students.   My prayer going into the trip was that God would open the hearts of my students and that my heart would remain open to all He had for me.

On the first day my heart melted during all school chapel.

The video above is from one of our all school chapels.  Listen to it with an open heart.  Watch the video and listen for the truth in the lyrics and the passion in the voices.

Almost a year after moving away, I was moved to tears when I saw all of my students and  heard them belt out, “My Savior, he can move the mountains.”

My God is mighty to save.

He is Mighty to save.

Remember, God calls us to be like little children.  Maybe we need to sing with the passion and confidence these little kids sang with.  Our God is the author of salvation.

I wrote this blog for a blog my church is doing during the season of Lent.  Join the Pascha community for daily devotionals and reflections on how God has moved in our lives through art, song, and nature.  You can find the blog by clicking here.  Enjoy!

March Madness

Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Have you filled out your bracket?

Yep, I’m talking about the NCAA’s baby!  This year I’ve got my team going all the way.  Yep, I’ve picked the University of Colorado to make it to the NCAA championship game.  I always pick my school to win it, which hasn’t been possible due to the fact CU hasn’t been in the NCAA tournament in nearly 10 years.  This doesn’t mean deep down I expect them to win, I just hold out hope.

I am extremely excited about my team, but to be honest I haven’t been able to pay much attention this year.  I always hope for CU to do well, but this year they have blown past my expectations.  I figured they would win a game or two in the Pac12 tournament, but not much more.  So I was floored yesterday when I saw that they’d won the tournament and were lacing up their dancing shoes for the big dance.

As excited as I am about all this, something much greater has been going on this last week.

I’ve been out of the country.

Over the last week I have been serving on a short term mission trip in Guatemala.  After almost 9 months away from Guatemala I made it back for the Inter-American School’s Spiritual Emphasis retreat.

Last week was amazing and I am not quite ready to fly back to the states.  But what I am ready to do is share about all the crazy things God did in our lives.  He not only worked in our lives, but he used my dad, Mike and Stacey Davis, and Me.

Two students in high school made statements of faith and 30 in elementary asked to know Christ.

Let that sink in.  That is so much bigger than CU making it to the NCAA’s.  Kids lives were changed and God let me be part of it!

This is the real madness.  Over the last couple of months I’ve been preparing for this week.  I wanted it to be perfect.  Almost every night I’ve had a dream about Guatemala, most of the time my students are like characters out of Harry Potter, but they’re my students just the same.  And so as I dreamed of my return, I also made sure I did my best to include God in on my plans.  I didn’t want to come back to IAS just to see all my friends I missed, but to challenge my students to grow in Christ.  But just like I hoped CU would make the NCAA tournament, never really expecting them to win the Pac12 Championship to make it in to the big dance, I never expected God to do so much during my time leading the retreat.

It’s amazing how, when we have an open heart to all he is doing, he blows past our expectations.  He truly is greater than we give him credit for.  But I guess that’s what life is like when we live spiritually.

I believe that God did so much this week because my team and I came down to Guatemala with open hearts to all he had for us.  It is only when we are open to him that he uses us.  Before the week began we each prayed that we would be open to all God had for us this week and man, he had an extravagant amount for us.  I have so many stories of how he moved and am very excited to share them all once I have time to write them down.  Just be prepared to be changed, because when you read them, if you read them with an open heart toward God, you wont be the same.

As we fly home my prayer is that the students who felt Christ move in their lives will be able to find someone who will be able to help them grow in their faith.

I promise I will write more about the trip to Guatemala.  God showed up on my adventure this week and I am very excited to share it all with you, but right now I need to get to bed.

Please pray for a safe flight.

The Premise To A Dangerous Life

Raise your hand if you’ve given up on your New Year’s resolution?

This year my mom and I decided to start the year off by doing the “100 burpy challenge”, if you don’t know what burpies are check out the video here.  The challenge is to start on January first by doing one burpy and then adding one each day.  I just did my 57 and am tired.  If you have been following my blogs you know that I have also commited to living spiritually.

Unlike the burpies, which are difficult in themselves, living spiritually has been a harder commitment to keep.  Doing my burpies only takes at most 20 minutes right now, but living spiritually can take all day and, well, it’s so easy to just shut down and live in a me centered world and not a God centered one.  I try to follow my own tips of being attentive, in position, and being submissive, which I talked about in my How Running and Living Spiritually Go Hand in Hand blog, but sometimes I just want to complain about my job.  I want to take a moment for myself.  Is that so bad?

Yes!  God wants more for us.

So raise both hands up if you have stopped living spiritually at any time this year.  Okay, you can put them back down.  Yeah, we’re only 58 days into the new year and I bet most of us have already been burnt out.  We’ve either looked so hard for God and he let us down, or our lives just got busy.  But I’m here to tell you not to stop now.  God has something great for us (just most of the time not what we expect); we just have to keep our eyes open.  I believe as we set off on this life long journey of living spiritually, yes I know I’ve said this was just the challenge for 2012, but I believe God is asking for more;  it is a lifestyle and not just a goal, we have to ask an important question.

What if . . . ?  The answer to this question could be the premise to life.

You decided to live dangerously.

What if I loved dangerously.

1st John verse 4 says, “let us love one another, for love comes from God . . . God is is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement, because in this world we are like him.  There is no f ear in love.  But perfect love drives out all fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because he first loved us.”

If we are living spiritually, we are lovers in a dangerous time.  A world outside of God is a world away from love because as John writes, “God is Love.”

What would life truly look like without love?  That is a premise I would not like to live out.

Imagine a world without love.  You’d have to take away all love songs, love stories, and Valentine’s Day cards.  In fact get rid of Christmas and Easter, because God’s ultimate action of love was giving his son to us as a sacrifice.

A world without love would be void of sacrifice.

There goes anyone offering to help you change your flat tire on a rainy highway.

I believe random acts of kindness would be a thing of myths.  A world without love would be a self-centered world.  No one would live for anyone but themselves.

If we stop living spiritually we stop loving.

Without love, would it really be wrong to cheat, steal, and lie?  I mean, those people are just looking out for themselves.  True morality is dead without God’s love because there is no reason to treat other people with respect if our lives are centered on ourselves.  Respect would mean treating people as if they held value and giving people value would imply love.

If we stop living spiritually there would be no love and we’d end up alone, feeling empty.

Sunday, day number 57 of living spiritually, I went to downtown Denver with a couple of my friends.  It was cold out, so we walked 16th street mall rather quickly.  My friends are from out of town and they figured they couldn’t spend time in Denver without actually seeing it’s city life.  Most of what I saw were poor people trying to stand in the sun as if their bodies could soak up it’s warmth so they could stay warm for the night.  As we stood waiting for the free shuttle back to our car, a girl came up to us and asked us if we needed directions.  Being a Denver native I kindly said, no.  Boldly she asked if we could get her something to eat.  She didn’t want much, just a hamburger from smashburger.  We hesitated for a minute, not that she seemed dangerous, but our shuttle was coming, but she looked cold and so I said, sure.  Sometimes when you kick at the darkness you end up hitting your own selfish desires.  We walked into smashburger and my friends bought her a burger.  She said she was very grateful and told us that she’d run away from her uncle’s home because he abused her mom.  I hope that burger filled more than her stomach.  I hope it brought the light that only God’s love can bring to her.

Living spiritually means meeting other people’s needs and knowing that God will take care of the rest.

I’m thankful for my loving family and the warm bed I can crawl up in after I am done writing this blog.  I guess what I am saying is, if I stopped living spiritually my heart would be closed to moments like today and I wouldn’t be grateful for what I have been given.  We are called to live dangerously, so if you have given up on your New Year’s resolution or have faltered at living spiritually start back up.  All it takes is showing a little love, kicking at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.

A Fruity Guatemalan Spiritual Lesson

Of all the classes I taught, Bible wasn’t the one I looked forward to teaching every day.  I enjoyed my gym classes and my screen writing classes, but this Bible class I had to teach last year was a struggle.  Mostly because of the kids.  Yes, I said it.  I had a class of kids I didn’t enjoy.  Okay, these kids were fine individually, but put them together and they would start to pick on one another.

I knew, as their Bible teacher, it was my job to teach them the correct way to treat their classmates.  But no matter what I told them, the girls still singled out the one girl they decided was different from them and treated her as if she was trash.  And the boys, well, they just cheated most of the time and complained if they weren’t given the best marks on all of their work.

Telling them how Moses brought the people of Israel out of Egypt in hopes of helping them become a kinder class was just not working.  Sunday school lessons on David killing Goliath didn’t mean anything to them.  By middle school at the Inter-American School, a private Christian School, they’d heard it all.  Unfortunately the way they were treating their classmates wasn’t matching up with the Bible verses they’d heard all of their life, and it was bringing me down.

Kids won’t change if the teacher, who is in charge of their spiritual growth, has a bias against them.  Their bad attitudes were causing me to neglect them.  For a while, longer than I care to admit, I decided just to teach the class, but not try to help them grow in their relationships with Jesus.  Neglecting them was working fine until I came across the book of Colossians.

Colossians 4: 12 states, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

I knew as a Christian leader I had to show my students compassion.  I started praying for them each night.  The prayers were simple, but they helped.  The girls were still mean to one another and the boys still cheated, but I started to love them.  And I believe that’s what it takes when we live spiritually.

As my love grew, I decided to challenge the class as a whole, including me, to start living by the fruit of the spirit.  I stopped worrying if they knew who was king David’s great-grandfather (Boaz) and started focusing on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

I offered them extra credit to memorize Galatians 5:16-25, the passage in the Bible where the Apostle Paul get’s spiritually fruity.  They complained about having to know such a long passage, but as I was memorizing the passage the fruit started to show in my life.  And my hope was my students could see the change in me, and start to see what it meant to live by the fruits of the spirit.

This is a lesson we can apply to our own lives.  If we want to live spiritually, we need to live by the fruits of the Spirit.  I am not sure if my students learned anything (middle schoolers are a stubborn breed and not all blogs have clear-cut endings), but I know by being joyful for them when they did well, being kind to them when they were mean to me, or by showing self-control when they acted out, my heart changed.  And if they can see me change, then maybe, just maybe, they’ll change too.

I haven’t talked to many of those kids since I returned to Colorado, but I still pray for them.  I challenge anyone to live by the fruits of the spirit and pray for the people in their lives, even if they are annoying.  The change will be sweet, I guarantee it.

The Challenge for 2012

Can you find something you are thankful for each day? Can you open yourself to seeing God in your life-not just in the big events-but in the little moments too?

Our lives can get pretty busy with work, family, and friends.  Most people are so caught up in their lives that they miss out on the greater adventure that life can become.  I think God tugs on our lives each year.  He calls us, most of the time very gently, to join him in a grand adventure, which is why every year we make goals to improve our lives.  We yearn for more, maybe even for the life God has for us, but often we give up one week in.  I think that happens because we are trying to reach these goals alone.  So let’s join together in making 2012 a special year.  As an online community let’s place God at the center of our lives.

Here is my challenge.  Live 2012 Spiritually.

Living Spiritually means listening for God and doing what he asks.

On Christmas Eve I realized I hadn’t really given anything good to half of my family.  Fortunately hours before midnight I felt a gentle nudge to challenge my family to keep a daily journal about how they saw God.

For a brief moment I tried to ignore the idea.  Nah, too much work.  But then it hit me, if I didn’t try this idea I’d never know what God could do with this.  So I said yes, drove up to Wal-Mart, fought off the last minute shoppers, picked up six journals, printed out some pictures (that way each journal had a personalized photo for each person), and drove home knowing this gift would be an incredibly hard challenge.

On Christmas Day my family opened up their journals and the idea of challenging everyone to open their eyes to God’s daily activities sprang to life.

This is a challenge my family is taking on together.  Now I want to invite you to join in.  Say yes to God’s gentle nudge.  You will not be alone in this.  Together we will make 2012 a different year, a special year.  Do you want to go on a grand Adventure?  If so, pick up a journal and keep track of how you see God work in your life.

Here is how I am going to do it.

Every day I am going to read the Bible.  God is relational and the best way to get to know Him is to read his word.

Every day I am going to write down what I am thankful for.  I believe keeping track of what I am thankful for will help me stay focused when times get tough.

Every day I am going to look for ways I’ve been blessed and when I see them I will write it down too.  I believe if I am looking for God’s gifts, God will make me a person who is more willing to give and receive blessings.

Every day I am going to recognize God’s presence.  He is in the big moments and the little moments.  It just takes opening my eyes and looking for him.  I will write down what I see in my journal.

Writing all of this down is key.  Go grab a journal, it doesn’t have to cost much or be fancy, and start writing.  It trains us to look for God and see what He is doing.  And at the end of the year we have proof of a life lived with God at the forefront of our every day lives.

Adding these four steps to your already busy life might seem daunting, but when you join in on this adventure you aren’t doing this alone.  Through prayer and scripture we will do this together, and as my nearly three year old little niece Addi once said, “You can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Living Spiritually means saying yes to God.  Keep God at the center of your life in 2012 and join us on this adventure.

I helped my dad create facebook.com/livingspiritually and would like you to like the page.  When you like the page you will join us in our adventure and have a great way to interact with a broad group of people who have committed to living spiritually.  If you are on twitter tweet #livingspiritually2012 to join the conversation about how God is working in our lives.

Happy New Year!